Interview with Gallerist Liz Moss
When did you open your eponymous gallery and how did you choose to be in Falmouth, Maine?
I open in 2004, the same year I remarried and became pregnant with my first child. My father (then business partner) and I opened Elizabeth Moss Galleries and Fastframe (a California franchise) together in my current space. Fastframe was a high-end picture framing company. They sent out a representative who assessed the best location in Maine based on the areas demographics – median income, shopping patterns, etc. and that is how we chose Falmouth. I broke ties with the franchise in 2010. Their “Fastframe” name didn’t fit the high end framing they offered. It also was in conflict with the sophisticated art and high price points I was offering to the public.
What is the focus of the gallery / what kind of art do you show?
My gallery tag line if you will is “Recognizing Maine’s Role in American Art”. I offer what I believe to be the best art of contemporary Maine artists. I sometimes broker estate pieces that are tied to Maine’s plein-air tradition like Winslow Homer and other lesser known representational artists. I specialize in Monhegan artists as well, artists who visited the island after WWII such as James Fitzgerald, Lynne Drexler, John Hultberg, Henry Kallem, Ruben Tam, Stephen Pace and others.
What are the best and worst things about owning an art gallery?
It’s incredibly exciting to discover new artists, encourage their development and direction. It’s rewarding to curate the displays. I love sharing my knowledge and enthusiasm with young collectors as well as advising experienced art buyers in their specific collections.
The worst thing is that the business is easily subjected to swings in the economy and that can make buyers reluctant to invest in art. After all, it is a luxury, to some degree.
How do you think being in Falmouth, Maine compares with owning a gallery in a larger city?
Falmouth (which is so close to Portland I consider it a suburb) is a great place to sell art because people are interested in it and are very sophisticated. I am only 5 hours from New York City and 2 hours from Boston, so I have the benefit of drawing clients from those larger metropolitan areas. Portland is a very sophisticated small city with world-class cuisine but also with the ease of nearly traffic-free commutes and accessibility to lakes and the ocean.
What is the overall feeling or focus of the Portland, Maine art scene?
It’s a bit of a mixed bag. The Portland Museum of Art has world-class exhibitions and the Winslow Homer studio. My 13-year-old business is one of the oldest art galleries in Maine. Most Portland galleries pop up out of an interest of artists themselves wanting a commercial space. They usually don’t last long. Most of Maine’s better art galleries are now midcoast, perhaps.
What’s the best show you have ever had and why?
Too hard to say- they are all my children.